Acai berries, (pronounced ah sigh ee) native to Brazil, are one of the healthiest fruits in the world, but, unfortunately also one of the most expensive to buy! Learn how to grow the acai tree right in your garden so you can reap its benefits and save yourself some money! Growing to a whopping 90 feet tall, the acai berry palm can tolerate heat and floods, but definitely not freezing temperatures. If you’re looking to grow your own acai plant, we only recommend it for USDA zones 10-11. Alternatively, if you’re lacking garden space, you can also purchase dwarf acai berry seeds which taste just the same but won’t take up so much room!
Because the acai plam trees are native to South America, you’ll need similar growing conditions. This means, that in order to successfully grow açaí berries, you’ll need year-round heat and sun. Unfortunately, if you don’t live in a tropical or semi-tropical climate, you won’t be able to grow acai fruit. Before we look into how to grow these berries, let’s take a quick look at the nutrients and health benefits of acai berries!
Acai Berry Nutrients
Believe it or not, acai berries are high in fat and low in sugar, making them a really unique berry! This means that acai fruit are high in fatty acids! 100 grams of frozen acai berries has the following nutritional information:
- Calories: 70
- Fat: 5 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.5 grams
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Sugar: 2 grams
- Fiber 2 grams
- Vitamin A: 15% of the RDI
- Calcium: 2% of the RDI
Additionally, they also contain trace minerals of the following: chromium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
Perhaps the most impressive health benefit of the acai berry comes from plant compounds though. The most important are anthocyanins, and this is what gives the berries their deep purple color and also their antioxidants.
Benefits of Acai Berries
- Acai berries are a natural health food and at that, also a superfood.
- The antioxidants in acai berries are very powerful and can cure a multitude of ailments.
- Because of their powerful ingredients, they’re naturally anti aging.
- Help lower cholesterol.
- May help stunt the growth of cancer cells.
- Can boost brain function by counteracting the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidation in brain cells.
- Can help lower blood sugar and also help with weight loss, especially in overweight adults.
How to Grow Acai Berries in Your Garden
Only suitable for tropical and sub-tropical climates OR greenhouses. USDA Zones 10-11
Planting Acai Berries:
- Make sure to purchase FRESH acai seeds from your local nursery or online. If they are clean, soak them in water for 24 hours before planting them.
- Fill a 1 gallon pot with a mix of peat and perlite (half and half). Plant seeds in that mix, about an inch deep. Enclose the pot in large, clear plastic bag and place it on a seed starting heat mat. This is to ensure that the seeds receive at least 80F in temperatures.
- The acai berry palm should start to germinate within 1-2 months. Once they begin sprouting, you can go ahead and remove the plastic bag. Place the pot in a partially shaded spot.
- Keep the soil damp at all times and once they reach a height of about 2 inches, transplant them into 4-inch diameter tree pots of cactus and palm potting soil .
- Continue growing them in pots for about 6 months or until they reach 20 inches in height.
- Choose an outdoor location with partial shade. Soil should be fertile, acidic, and well draining.
- Dig holes 15 inches in diameter and plant the acai palms about 15 feet apart.
Caring for Acai Berry Palms:
- Water thoroughly after planting and then keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
- Feed your acai berry palm twice a year with a time-release palm fertilizer.
Harvesting Acai Berries:
- Your tree should start giving off fruit within 3-5 years of planting.
- Watch for purple flowers – that means your tree will be ready to start giving off fruit!
- Harvest is usually from July to December.
How to Eat Acai Berries
Unfortunately, acai berries have a very low shelf life, so most of it is grown commercially, and then exported in three different forms: powders, juices, and purees.
Acai dried powder is the most concentrated form you can get, and therefore will give you the most nutrients.
Acai juices are delicious, although they are often sweetened with more sugar that you would need, defeating the purpose of enjoying the health benefits of this fruit.
Purees are a great option because you get to enjoy the full flavor without any of the additives. Of course, be sure to check the back of any packaged products for added ingredients and additives.
So now that you know how to grow acai berries, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!